Exclusive: Kobalt, STIM Form Aggregated Rights Arm to Accelerate European Licensing, Client Payments

Tomas Ericsson, deputy CEO of STIM, and Willard Ahdritz, founder/CEO of Kobalt, announce a new aggregated rights arm at MIDEM

Kobalt Music Group and STIM, a Swedish copyright management organization, have partnered to launch Kobalt STIM Aggregated Rights AB to effectively create a one-stop shop to Kobalt’s European rights for digital music services. The division will be a newly formed subsidiary of STIM that launches March 1.

See Photos from the Launch Party Here

As part of the new service’s proprietary technology platform, Kobalt clients will receive full transparency in usage data, rates and costs per license, with the ability to access their revenues within windows as short of a month within their music’s use. It will also streamline a rights-clearing process that used to involve doing separate deals with the 27 countries in the European Union. STIM introduced a similar service for the U.S. Independent publishing market in 2010 at an Association of Independent Music Publishers event in 2010.

Kobalt represents songwriters who’ve penned an estimated one-in-five top 40 songs across Europe (Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, Max Martin, Ryan Tedder, Shellback, Savan Kotecha, Kelly Clarkson, Gotye and Paul McCartney and MPL, to name a few), making a centralized market for European music rights all the more appealing when it comes to Kobalt’s Anglo-American catalog of more than 250,000 songs. Kobalt is also the fifth largest U.S. publishing company in terms of revenue.

“Kobalt and STIM both look after some of the most successful songwriters and songs in the world and share a visionary approach to copyright administration in the new music economy,” Tomas Ericsson, STIM’s deputy CEO, said in a statement. “With our publisher/CMO copyright partnership, cross-border digital music services can now easily access these seamlessly integrated rights that cover all of Europe.”

Willard Ahdritz, founder/CEO of Kobalt, has been waiting a long time to offer clients a platform like this -- 12 years, in fact, ever since he was first pitching the model for Kobalt as a company in 2001.

“This was the first slide I had in my presentation,” Ahdritz said during a recent lunch at MIDEM. “The vision is coming through executed. The speed of change is increasing, as there’s been an enormous shift from PC to mobile music usage over the last 12 months. The exciting part is activating mobile payments on a global scale.”

In addition to mobile, online video platforms have become a larger portion of Kobalt clients’ revenue -- representing as much as 5% of some artists’ total publishing revenue now. “They’re seeing revenue they haven’t seen at all, so to roll out technology that’s even more transparent about that user data is even more valuable,” Ahdritz said.